Inequality and Politics in the Creative City‐Region: Questions of Livability and State Strategy


City‐regionalism and livability are concepts that feature prominently in recent writings on urban politics and policy. Policy discussions have seen the two concepts fused together in such a way that regional competitiveness is generally understood to entail high levels of ‘livability’ while urban livability is increasingly discussed, measured and advocated at a city‐regional scale. It is, then, important to understand how these concepts work in tandem and to delineate the often‐elided politics of reproduction through which they operate. This paper begins by elaborating on the politically powerful fusion of city‐regionalist and urban livability discourses, using the example of Richard Florida’s creative city argument. It then discusses the politics of city‐regionalism and livability through the case of Austin, Texas, a city that has framed its policy in terms of regionalism and livability but which is also characterized by marked income inequality and a neighborhood‐based political struggle over the city’s future. The paper concludes by drawing lessons from the discussion and suggesting that the city‐regional livability agenda can best be understood as a geographically selective, strategic, and highly political project.